Abercrombie & Fitch is taking a proactive approach to the sluggish teen market.
The retailer and its competitors have been struggling as young people increasingly spend money on smartphones and lattes instead.
Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries retired last week after two decades at the helm. But in just a year, the brand has changed tremendously.
Here are some of the notable differences.
1. New leadership.
Abercrombie’s old system was criticised for giving the CEO and chairman a disproportionate amount of power.
The board ended up separating the chairman and CEO roles, appointing seven new independent directors to the board, and appointing longtime executive Jonathan Ramsden as chief opeating officer. Abercrombie also appointed presidents for its namesake, kids, and Hollister brands.
The new structure is more democratic and could make it easier for new ideas to be heard in the future.
2. Revamping Hollister’s image.
Abercrombie gave Hollister storefronts a new look, made the inside brighter, and improved the fashion assortments.
The brand also hired its first celebrity spokesperson — actress and singer Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars.
3. Selling black merchandise.
Jefferies reportedly believed that the colour black was too formal for his brand, which was meant to evoke casual, preppy vibes. Employees at corporate headquarters weren’t even allowed to wear it to work.
Today, Abercrombie has lifted the ban on black and now sells it in stores.
4. Reducing logos.
Teens are moving away from the logos that were popular a decade ago.
The company said on an earnings call with analysts that the American logo business would be reduced to “practically nothing” by next spring.
5. Embracing Instagram and Snapchat.
Abercrombie knows how to connect with its young audience.
The company partnered with teen social media stars and fashion bloggers to wear its clothing.
It was the first major teen retail brand to take this approach.
6. Bringing in new brands.
Abercrombie is increasing offerings from third parties. This could help make designs fresher.
7. No more sexual marketing.
For years, Abercrombie & Fitch was famous for racy ads and shirtless models.
The brand has scaled back and now sticks to more wholesome images for its marketing.
8. Changing the stores.
Abercrombie removed the louvres, or blinds, from 240 of its namesake and kids’ stores. This gave the locations a brighter appearance.
It also reduced the scent of its Fierce cologne by 25%.
9. International expansions.
Abercrombie & Fitch opened its first store in China this year, with plans for more. It also signed a franchise agreement to open stores in Mexico.
Abercrombie has also launched a successful direct-to-consumer business in Asia.
10. Closing stores and investing in online.
As mall traffic declines, Abercrombie closed 60 US stores this year.
This is ultimately good for business because it gives Abercrombie more money to invest in rebranding and e-commerce.
Abercrombie started offering online ordering with the option for in-store pick-up. The company is also ramping up digital marketing.
11. Anti-bullying campaign.
In the past, Abercrombie has been accused of excluding minority and plus-size customers.
The company began an anti-bullying campaign which has reached an estimated 750,000 teens.
Abercrombie sold t-shirts with saying like “be yourself” and “real is the new black.”
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